Health Care Access Clinic delivers health care to the uninsured

Our weekly reminder that people aren't all bastards

In a country where profit still drives the health care system, it's refreshing to know that Lawrence still offers its uninsured residents a helping hand.

"We don't want to make people choose between health care and groceries," says Misty Harris of Health Care Access Clinic, 1920 Moodie Rd. "It's good for the community when you have healthy employees and healthy children."

For the last 17 years, HCAC has been delivering free or nearly free health care to low-income Lawrence residents who are not covered by private or governmental insurance programs. For a $10 fee (which can be waived if necessary), patients can begin treatment for everything from the common cold to cancer.

In addition to six full-time staff members, the clinic relies on the kindness of more than 140 health professionals throughout Douglas County who donate a few hours a month to take on HCAC patients. Community volunteers help with a wide range of tasks including community outreach, fundraising, clerical work and building maintenance.

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Health Care Access events coordinator Misty Harris

"It's the best community involvement I've ever seen," says Harris, a former AmeriCorps volunteer who now works as the clinic's events coordinator. "The drive for me - and for most other people - is just to help provide for those basic needs."

The clinic is a vital resource for patients with chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes. Thanks to donations from pharmaceutical companies and local doctors, HCAC patients have easy access to medications.

"They don't have to try and make it through all the paperwork," Harris says. "It's bad news when you let something go that should be taken care of."

The clinic is seeking volunteers to help promote fundraising events and assist with day-to-day operations, Harris says.

"There's almost always some need, whether an event is coming up or we just need some weeds pulled," she says. "We try to help you figure out what you can do for the clinic instead of just prescribing things."

Anyone interested in making a donation or volunteering with Health Care Access should contact Misty Harris at 841-5760 (x209). The clinic's wish list is available at www.healthcareaccess.org.

More volunteer opportunities are available at rhvc.org

Most importantly, HCAC is always seeking to get more patients in the door.

"Amazingly enough, we only serve about 10 percent of the uninsured population in Douglas County," Harris says. "Hopefully more people will find out."

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